I have one ‘complaint’ about all of Luke Morley’s work… his guitar solos are always way too short. However having followed him through his time in Terraplane (buy their albums, just for the band photos!) which, of course, morphed into the perennially brilliant Thunder, then his time in The Union, the two strokes of genius from Bowes and Morley and even on his solo album El Gringo Retro, it is clear that he consistently delivers high-quality music.
His new solo album, Songs From The Blue Room, certainly keeps up that tradition. Luke explains his approach: “You have to do it as you see it, and hope enough people like it to keep you in a job. Certainly, with Thunder, that’s always been the philosophy, and it’s the same with this album as well as maybe reflecting some other areas of my taste.” The key phrase being reflecting other areas… meaning this set is slightly more diverse, with infusions of Eastern motifs through to true rhythm and blues. Thankfully, Luke’s wry, biting and accurate lyrical prowess is still evident and Luke handles lead vocals… so don’t expect Danny or Pete Shoulder, but rest assured he is more than capable in range, expression and passion – impressive.
To the music, and the opener ‘I Wanna See The Light’ is (in a good way) ‘Thunder-light’ with neat sing-a-long choruses. ‘Killed By Cobain,’ is a story of how grunge killed Thunder’s original ambitions in the US. Done in a Beatles meets Petty form, but with Luke’s unerring knack for guitar phrasing and touch which captures the story perfectly. The first departure is the mainly acoustic, blues come country, ‘Errol Flynn,’ which is a clever song about an ageing wanna-be cowboy and includes name-checks for John Wayne and Don Juan! ‘Nobody Cares’ accurately pierces the (anti)social media bubble in a laid-back, layered way and is, on first listen, a strange bedfellow for the rest of the album… however the slow music hall “la-la-las,” with Danny Bowes and Ricky Warwick adding their own “la’s,” the whole thing becomes fascinating and the Eastern sounding guitar solo (apart from being too short) is an absolute delight. ‘Lying To Myself’ is an acoustic song with bounce and a touch of Heep meets Dylan about it that works really well. ‘I’m The One You Want’ brings some weighty yet subtle funk and an electric solo that, apart from being too short! lifts the song to another level.
In summary, don’t expect Thunder… just a collection of ten carefully thought out and executed songs that illustrate Luke’s skills across a much broader palette than previously encountered. It isn’t heavy and, in some places, isn’t really rock, but throughout it is a thoroughly enjoyable, cleverly constructed varied and inventive addition to Luke’s catalogue.
Songs From The Blue Room is out on 23rd June 2023.